Eastern Europe: Glossary

The ruling family in Hungary prior to 1301. When their family failed to have a son sit on the Hungarian throne, a new family was sought. The Arpads ruled for three hundred years.

The Angevine family originated from Anjou in France. It was the line which was successful in succeeding to the Hungarian throne after the Arpads died out. Only two Angevine kings ruled in Hungary in the fourteenth century before they ceased to produce a male heir.

The geographical area of southeastern Europe which was comprised of many petty kingdoms. The area was a battleground between the expanding Ottoman Empire and the defensive European nations during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Battle of Nicopolis
In 1396, Hungarian and French forces responding to a papal call for a crusade against the Ottoman Turks were crushed in battle at Nicopolis on the Danube River in Bulgaria. French survivors returning with accounts of the disaster were imprisoned and the defeat sent a wave of fear across Europe.

Battle of Tannenberg
Also called the battle of Grunewald, the battle took place on July 15, 1410 and a Polish-Lithuanian army inflicted a serious defeat on the Teutonic Knights, initiating the decline of the order.

Battle of Varna
The Polish and Hungarian armies under Wladyslaw III and Janos Hunyadi were crushed at the Battle of Varna in 1444 by the Ottoman Turks under Murad II. The defeat ended any serious attempts to prevent the conquest of eastern Europe by the Turks for several decades and the death of Wladyslaw III in the battle left the realm in the hands of Ladislav V.

Calixtus III
(1378-1458), pope (1455-1458), born Alfonso Borgia, mounted a crusade to recover Constantinople from the Ottoman Turks. Although Calixtus III was unsuccessful in this endeavour, he did revise Joan of Arc's trial, finding her innocent and his pontificate was relatively well administered. He did, however, practice nepotism, raising his nephew Rodrigo Borgia (the future pope, Alexander VI) to cardinal in 1456.

Charles Robert of Anjou or Charles I of Hungary
(1288-1342) king of Hungary (1301, 1308-1342) son of Charles II of Naples and maternal grandson of Stephen V of Hungary, Charles I established the Angevine dynasty in Hungary. Originally crowned king in 1301, he was quickly deposed by Wenceslas II of Bohemia. The Hungarian nobles re-elected Charles I in 1308 and he had received formal recognition by 1310. Charles I encouraged trade and levied taxes to support his army which he used to expand his territory, making Hungary into a major European power.

Conrad of Masovia

Matthias Corvinus the Just of Hungary
(1443-1490), king of Hungary (1458-1490), son of Janos Hunyadi, elected successor to Ladislav V in 1458. A rival claim from the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III ended when Frederick III acknowledged Corvinus as king in 1462. Corvinus reformed Hungary's judicial system and created an independent mercenary army that he used to consolidate and expand his control over internal and external enemies. At the time of his death, his empire included Austria, Styria, and Carinthia but the lands were quickly lost when he died without an heir.

Council of Constance
The Council of Constance was summoned to end the Great Western Schism which resulted in the simultaneous reigns of three popes. The election of Martin V marked the end of the Schism. The Council condemned John Wyclif and Jan Hus on the grounds of heretical writings and teachings. Hus was burned at the stake, but this only served to provide a martyr to the Hussite movement in Bohemia a martyr.

Elizabeth of Bosnia
(c.1340-1387), queen consort of Louis I the Great of Hungary and Poland, Elizabeth defied the settlements of her husband's will that stipulated that their daughter Maria should reign Poland while their other daughter Jadwiga should acquire the Hungarian crown. Elizabeth seized control of both kingdoms and tried to have Maria succeed to the thrones of both Hungary and Poland and had Maria crowned queen of Hungary within a week of Louis I's death. The Polish nobles resented Elizabeth's rule and she was forced to send Jadwiga to be crowned as queen of Poland in 1384. Elizabeth's rule in Hungary was also resented and in 1385, the Hungarian nobles offered the crown to Charles III of Naples. Elizabeth had him killed within months and she was captured and tortured to death only a few months after that.

Frederick III
(1415-1493), Holy Roman Emperor (1440-1493), king of Germany as Frederick IV (1440-1486), the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned at Rome, Frederick III incurred the enmity of the German nobles when he sacrificed the independence of the German Church in order to gain papal support. He was an incompetent monarch who proved unable to suppress revolts or to defend Habsburg territories. Nevertheless, he did manage to expand the Habsburg domain when he married his son to the Burgundian heiress.

Great Schism
The period between 1378 and 1417 during which there were multiple claimants to the papal office.

Hunyadi, Janos
(c.1387-1456) Hungarian military leader, Hunyadi entered the service of Sigismund of Hungary and was named governor of Transylvania in 1439. He was elected governor of Hungary and guardian of the infant-king Ladislav V in 1446. In 1458, he successfully fought off the Ottoman siege of Belgrade despite daunting odds and died later the same year from an illness contracted during the battle.

Hus, Jan
The Czech leader of the Hussites situated in Bohemia, he was called before the Council of Constance in 1414 to debate his beliefs. Instead, he was charged and convicted of heresy and was burned at the stake as a heretic. This action created a martyr for the Czechs and flamed the already existing tension between the Germans in Bohemia and the Czechs.

Inspired by the preachings of Jan Hus, whose own ideas were based on the teachings of John Wycklif, the Hussites demanded radical Church reforms, speaking out against simony, the sale of indulgences, and various other abuses of the clergy. Hus' martyrdom at the Council of Constance in 1415 provided a focal point for Czech nationalist feelings and led to armed revolt in Bohemia.

Jadwiga of Poland
(1374-1399) queen of Poland (1384-1399), youngest daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Poland and Elizabeth of Bosnia, Louis I's will granted the crown of Hungary to Jadwiga but her mother's machinations ended with Jadwiga's succession to the Polish crown instead. In 1386, Jadwiga married Jagiello of Lithuania, who converted his entire principality to Christianity and ascended to the Polish throne as Wladyslaw II Jagiello, establishing the powerful Jagiellan dynasty.While Jagiello ruled Lithuania, Jadwiga ruled Poland until her death in 1399.

Jagiello of Lithuania or Wladislaw II Jagiello of Poland
(1350-1434) grand duke of Lithuania (1377-1401) and king of Poland (1386-1434), founded the Jagiellon dynasty on the Polish throne when he married the Polish queen Jadwiga in 1386. Jagiello converted to Christianity when he ascended the Polish throne and officially introduced the religion to Lithuania in 1387. He continued to rule Lithuania until 1401 when he granted the duchy to his cousin Witold. In 1410, the combined Polish and Lithuanian armies inflicted a serious defeat on the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Tannenberg, marking the beginning of the order's decline.

Kasimir III the Great
(1310-1370), king of Poland (1333-1370), last of the Piast dynasty in Poland, continued his father's policy to unify and strengthen Poland. He arranged treaties with the Teutonic Knights and Bohemia and, in Poland, he actively encouraged commerce and trade. He supported Jewish immigration to Poland and introduced numerous improvements in the conditions of the peasantry. The Polish law codes were reworked in 1347 and he founded the University of Krakow in 1364. He died without an heir in 1370 and was succeeded by his nephew, Louis I of Hungary.

Kasimir IV
(1427-1492), king of Poland (1447-1492), grand duke of Lithuania, a younger son of Wladyslaw III, Kasimir III devoted his attention to Lithuania at the expense of consciencious administration in Poland. He continued his father's battles against the Teutonic Knights, finally regaining Polish access to the Baltic Sea in 1466. His son Wladyslaw was elected king of Bohemia in 1471 and king of Hungary in 1490, extending the family domains across eastern Europe.

Ladislav V
(1438-1458), king of Hungary and Poland (1444-1458), son of Albert II, he succeeded to the throne when he was only six and most of his reign was under the governorship of Janos Hunyadi, who died in 1456. Ladislav V died only two years later, the absence of an heir opened the way to an interegnal contest that was eventually won by Hunyadi's son, Matthias Corvinus.

Louis I the Great of Hungary
(1326-1382) king of Hungary (1342-1382) and Poland (1370-1382), followed his father Charles I to the throne of Hungary and succeeded his uncle Kasimir III to the Polish throne. Louis I fought three wars against Venice between 1342 and 1381 when he was finally successful and Bulgaria, Moldavia, Serbis, and Walachia all recognised him as sovereign. He made numerous reforms in Hungary which prospered under his rule. His leniency with the Polish nobility left that country less well administered.

Maria of Hungary
(1371-1395) queen of Hungary (1382-1395), daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Poland and Elizabeth of Bosnia, Louis I's will provided that Maria should succeed to the Polish throne. Her mother wanted Maria to acquire both Hungary and Poland and Elizabeth had Maria crowned queen of Hungary within a week of Louis I's death. Elizabeth's plan collapsed when the Polish nobility insisted on their own queen and maria's younger sister was dispatched to Poland. Elizabeth's rule in Hungary was equally unsuccessful and Elizabeth was tortured to death by Hungarian nobles in 1387. The intervention of Maria's fiancee, Sigismund of Pomerania, was probably all that saved Maria from a similar death. Sigismund was crowned king of Hungary in 1387 and he married Maria later that same year. Maria continued to rule alongside Sigismund until her death.

Ottoman Empire
The political and geographical entity governed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Their empire was centered in present-day Turkey, and extended its influence into southeastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Driven from their Asiatic homelands by the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks pressed into the Balkan provinces of the Byzantine Empire. In the fourteenth century, they began their conquest of Byzantine territory. Europe was only temporarily able to resist their advance: the turning point came at the Battle of Varna in 1444 when a European coalition army failed to stop the Turkish advance. Only Constantinople remained in Byzantine hands and its fall in 1453 seemed inevitable after Varna. The Turks subsequently established an empire in Anatolia and southeastern Europe which lasted until the early twentieth century.

New Monarchies
The three western European monarchies of Spain, England and France that moved towards centralised government and greater control by the king during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Siege of Belgrade
In June and July 1456, a large Ottoman force was held off by an army of Hungarian peasants led by Janos Hunyadi. The victory was touted across Europe as the turning point in the war against the Ottoman Turks but it proved to be little more than a respite in the Turkish advance.

Sigismund of Pomerania or Sigismund of Hungary
(1368-1437), Holy Roman Emperor (1411-1437), king of Hungary (1387-1437), king of Bohemia (1419-1437), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Acquired the throne of Hungary through his marriage to Mary, Queen of Hungary. Although Sigismund was elected to the imperial throne following the death of Rupert in 1411, the Great Schism delayed his formal cornation by the pope until 1433. Sigismund's power in Bohemia was seldom more than nominal and he was forced to deal with numerous rebellions by the Bohemians who accused him of complicity in the death of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance, over which Sigismund presided.

The name applied to a group of Turkic tribes who, along with the Mongols, invaded Europe and Asia in the thirteenth century, establishing the Empire of the Great Horde.

Teutonic Order of Knights or Teutonic Knights
This military and religious order was founded by German crusaders in 1190 at Acre during the Third Crusade. It developed into a military-religious order, dominated by the noble classes. From 1221 to 1225, the Knights defended Hungarian Transylvania against the Mongols, and in 1228 they led a crusade against the pagan Prussians. As a reward, the Polish Prince Conrad of Mazovia gave them land in Prussia, which they expanded through the conquest of other territories, both pagan and Christian. Eventually, they built a strong military state at the northeastern borders of Poland, which threatened both Poland and Lithuania. Finally, in 1410, the Teutonic army was defeated by Polish-Lithuanian forces in the Battle fo Tannenberg. The order was secularized in 1525.

Wladyslaw I Lokietek
(1260-1333), king of Poland (1296-1300; 1320-1333), re-united the independent principalities of Poland after nearly two centuries of separation. Wladyslaw I was elected ruler by the Polish nobles in 1296 but when they reversed their decision in 1300, Wladyslaw I moved to gain control by military means and he was crowned king of Poland at Krakow in 1320.

Wladyslaw III
(1424-1444) king of Poland (1434-1444) and Hungary (1440-1444), son of Wladyslaw II Jagiello of Poland by his fourth wife, he succeeded his father to the Polish throne. His election to the Hungarian throne was assisted by Janos Hunyadi. The Habsburgs contested Wladyslaw III's election until 1434 when they were persuaded to relinquish their claim so that Hungarian energies could be focussed against the invading Ottoman Turks. Along with Hunyadi, Wladyslaw III led an army against the Ottomans, forcing a treaty in 1444 that returned to Hungary all territories previously captured by the Turks. The war was resumed at the insistence of the papacy and Wladyslaw III was killed in battle at Varna in November, 1444.

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The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
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